Friday the 13th: Lucky or not?

Clevelanders not much into superstitions

CLEVELAND - Whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around the topic tends to be whether it's bad luck waiting to happen, or if it's all just a bunch of malarkey.

Latanga "Tangy" Banks walked out of the West Side Market, the only one of about 100 people who had an umbrella just in case of rain. Sure enough, down it came Friday morning. Banks is sure the 13th bad luck idea is just another man-made urban legend.

"Friday the 13th, that's man-made talk. You got to believe in God. He created the sky, the rainbows, the heavens ... and Friday the 13th. But the superstition, that's man made," Banks said.

Most Cleveland area dwellers have had it with superstition talk just dealing with decades of sports bad luck, but for a person in real fear of days like Friday the 13th, it's truly real.

MetroHealth's Department of Family Medicine Resident Director  Dr. Leanne Chrisman says it may be irrational, but like any fear, it's very real to the person who is quite firm in their belief of it. It's a real phobia -- triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13, while fear of Friday the 13th is paraskavedekatriaphobia.

"It is absolutely a real phobia. Is it irrational? Yes. Do ladders actually make our luck bad? Do black cats actually make our luck bad? No. But your belief in that can certainly make reality happen," said Chrisman.

The number 13 appearing as bad luck goes back in history to as early as 1720 B.C. when the number was omitted from many written artifacts. Through the centuries, superstitions ruled in many forms and Friday the 13th is still one of those, irrational or not.

"When it's something someone is afraid of, whether irrational or not, it's real for them. For them the fear is very, very real. So they need to work through it. There's medication and treatment, but it's real to them at that moment. It's something they can work through to re-frame at something else," Chrisman said.

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